Sunday, December 29, 2013

2013 Year in Review begins with E3 Impressions, Part II: Six Months Later

There seems to be a recurring pattern here: Revive, Re-brand, Re-publish, Renew, Retire. I got this stunning urge and inspiration to write on the flight back from LA, and then that wonderful thing called life, job, career, kids, happen and then *poof!* we're two days from the new year and I'm like 'Holy Shit; I haven't put virtual pen to virtual paper in forever'.

This time, it is a little different. It isn't like I've been playing games non-stop and am just too lazy to write about them. This time, I started a new career, something more demanding, time intensive and not very friendly to an off peak video gaming lifestyle. While I tried to dedicate some time this year to playing through some games, it was severely diminished; something I hope to rectify in 2014.

This year featured the launch of the oft talked about next generation of consoles, Playstation 4 and Xbox One. I found myself in the fortunate position to be able to acquire both systems at launch, and after 6 weeks I find myself underwhelmed. I don't want to get caught up in this "which is better" nonsense because the capabilities themselves are essentially the same, but when I look back to what I thought at E3 in June and where they are now.

The talk of the show in the Summer was that Playstation 4 was the clear winner. Lower priced, no DRM locks, used game friendly, good lineup. My personal straw poll saw the PS4 was going to be the console of choice among those that were Xbox Loyalists; something that only confirmed to me of Microsoft's huge misstep. Microsoft figured brand loyalty would just let them coast into their standing lead among the big three in terms of install base with their new console. However, it seemed that everything they would announce for their new system would just piss people off. Back in June, I mentioned that Microsoft had five months to make their people happy, and to their credit, they tried.

Now that the smoke has cleared from the launch, I'm kind of back to where I was right after the Sony Conference; the Playstation 4 is the game console of choice for the new generation right now, though right now the game console of choice is still the Xbox 360.

None of these launches were bungled in any great way, but the selection of games is kind of lacking. No game that was exclusive to either next gen console made our top 10 of the year. I found a lot of the Xbox One's features to be frustrating. Setting up a party chat is a pain in the ass, and never really worked. There is too much going on at the dashboard. It as is if the interface was developed by someone who wanted to cater to the ADD Generation. I cannot force quit out of a game when it hangs up (which if you play Battlefield 4, you'll need that feature a lot).

Obviously there is a lot to be determined, here. Interfaces can be tweaked, there are better games coming on the horizon, and I think there will be some better support for Indie titles. However, now that we're looking forward to 2014, there is a hope that there is going to be a lot more in store in order for these consoles to live up to their four and five hundred dollar potentials.

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